Journalist and Historian drusilla Dunjee Houston

"To Die is To Gain"

Much has been written about New York's Harlem Renaissance, and its black literary and visual artists. The reality: the black renaissance occurred throughout the country, including Oklahoma City. Drusilla Houston, journalist and historian, held her own in a world that included other public intellectuals like Joel A. Rogers ("Sex and Race, Vols. I-III", "Nature Knows No Color Line", "100 Amazing Facts About the Negro" and a column on Negro History in the Pittsburgh Courier).

Houston was born at Harper's Ferry, Virginia in 1876. In 1892, her family moved to Oklahoma. Both parents were religious and politically active, passing on their traits to the children. They also encouraged education and entrepreneurship.

Roscoe Dungee owned and edited Oklahoma City's Black Dispatch; Irving Dungee managed the Chicago Enterprise and later edited the Negro Champion (New York City).

Between 1892 and 1934, "Drusilla" either taught, organized, or directed several educational institutions. She was among the first elementary school teachers of the district. She directed the Oklahoma Vocational Institute of Fine Arts and Crafts.

Houston's legacy comes from contributions to civil rights and historical writing as well. She wrote lengthy articles that advocated for civil rights in her brother's newspaper.

Houston is also the earliest of African-American women to write a multi-volume study of ancient African Civilizations: "Wonderful Ethiopians of the Ancient Kushite Empires" (1926). Written over a 25 year period, the magnificent work has been republished several times (Black Classics Press).

Houston made no distinction between religion and politics: on her grave stone is the following: To Die Is To Gain."


James E. Brunson


Journalist and Historian Drusilla Dunjee Houston

By James E. Brunson |Black Historians/African Presence in Near Africa

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